4A Hair Type Guide: What Is It & How to Care For It

Learn everything you need to know about the 4A hair type with John Frieda. Discover how to identify the hair type, 4A hair care tips, and more!
4A Hair Type Guide: What Is It & How to Care For It

Curly hair is curly hair, right? Not exactly. Curls actually come in all shapes, types, and textures. Knowing your curl type can help you choose the right styles, products, and hair care routine to keep your curls soft and healthy.

So, what sets the 4A hair type apart from other curl types? We’ll give you the 411 on 4A hair care, as well as our favorite 4A hairstyles, and 4A hair products to give you the curls you crave.

What Is the 4A Hair Type?

long loose waves haircut

The 4A hair type is the first type in the type 4 category in the Andre Walker hair typing system, which is typically associated with the Black community. It’s characterized by tight coils that form an “S” shape when stretched out. These coils are typically the width of a pencil or a crochet needle and experience about 50-60% shrinkage when wet.

The 4A hair type is the first type in the type 4 category in the Andre Walker hair typing system, which is typically associated with the Black community. It’s characterized by tight coils that form an “S” shape when stretched out. These coils are typically the width of a pencil or a crochet needle and experience about 50-60% shrinkage when wet.

The 4A hair type tends to be softer and finer in texture than the other category 4 hair types. It also retains more moisture than 4B and 4C hair, but like all curly hair, it’s still fragile, dry, and prone to breakage. A good 4A hair care routine with products formulated specifically for curly hair can make all the difference.

4A Hair Care

When it comes to 4A hair, adopting a routine that keeps your coils soft, hydrated, and defined is the ultimate goal. Here are our top 4A hair care tips.

  1. Shampoo just twice a week. However, feel free to experiment with a number that works for you. Curly hair needs extra moisture, and too much shampoo can strip away the natural oils your curls need. Use a hydrating, sulfate-free formula and focus on washing just your roots and scalp, letting the extra foam trickle down to cleanse the entire strand. This will help minimize tangling and retain moisture.
  2. Pre-poo. Help your coils retain more moisture during washes by conditioning both before and after shampooing. Use a thick, deeply moisturizing conditioner or coat your curls in coconut oil for about 30 minutes before washing.
  3. Deep condition once a week. Hydrate your curls weekly with a deep conditioning treatment.
  4. Spritz your curls with conditioner. Seal in moisture and lock out frizz with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner or a bottle of water mixed with hair oil throughout the day.
  5. Minimize heat exposure. The 4A hair type is delicate and prone to breakage, so rely on curl-defining 4A hair products to style your curls rather than heat tools. If you must use heat, coat your curls liberally with a heat-protecting serum before styling.
  6. Detangle gently. Minimize damage and breakage by separating and detangling your coils using a wide-tooth comb or just your fingers and a curl cream or oil.
  7. Plop your curls at night. Protect your curls at night by “plopping” damp coils in a soft microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt to dry.

5 Hairstyles to Try With 4A Hair

Here are a few of our favorite 4A hairstyles to try.

  1. Pigtails: They’re not just for little girls! Tie your coils into two loose pigtails for a fresh, fun look. Be sure to use soft, no-tangle hair ties to minimize breakage.
  2. Clipped Hair Part: Get this chic, easy look simply by pinning one side of your hair back, letting the rest flow free.
  3. Bantu Knots: Bantu knots add dimension to a classic half-up, half-down style. Part the front of your hair into three sections and twist each section around your finger to form a small bun or knot. Pin in place and go!
  4. The Puff: The puff is simply a high, curly ponytail. Get the look by gathering your coils high on your crown, securing it with a soft hair tie or scrunchy. Add a colorful scarf or headband to change it up.
  5. All Natural: Let your 4A coils do their thing by leaving them down and loose. Just use a little curl cream or spritz with a moisturizing leave-in conditioner and go!

Key Takeaways

  1. The 4A hair type is the first type attributed to the Black community. It’s characterized by tight coils the width of a pencil or a crochet needle, forming an “S”-shape when stretched, and experiencing about 50-60% shrinkage when wet.
  2. 4A hair retains the most amount of moisture of all the types in this category, but it still needs plenty of moisture and gentle care to remain soft and healthy.
  3. From a puff or bantu knots to pigtails and natural curls, styling 4A hair is all about embracing its natural texture.

Embrace the full-bodied texture of your 4A curls. Check out more John Frieda hair care tips for curly hair.